Pretty VS. Wearable

I’ve been thinking about this question quite a lot lately… what is pretty and what is wearable? I know that I tend to admire a lot of patterns, and will favorite them immediately on Ravelry, without truly thinking about not only whether I’d ever wear it, but also how often I’d be using that knitted item. In fact, although I’ve gotten much better about making things that actually look good on me, I have quite a few items that people think are gorgeous that do not get worn very often… and vice versa! Quite a few knitted items I’ve made that I wear over and over again do/did not get as much attention as I was expecting hoping they would. It’s funny too because all the knit items I’ve made for other people get compliments as they are walking down the street (seriously, I get text messages from friends reading “Wearing your hat today and just got three compliments on it! :)”) but when I wear my own knit items I very rarely get complimented… if ever! Perhaps I’m not as friendly a person as I think I am? Or maybe I’m not as pretty as the friends who wear the knit items I make them? In either case, since I don’t get people stopping me to say “OMG I love that hat! Where did you get it?”, I have to go elsewhere to see how those knit items are being received. So, of course, my first resource for seeing how much people love something is Ravelry and this blog. The blog I feel is not as easy because you have to actually sit down and type a response, which can be tedious and perhaps tiring for some, but on Ravelry it’s as quick as pressing a “Add to faves” button, which people seem to do quite easily judging by the number of favorites in many users’ accounts… like mine, boasting a full 1,230!

So the other day I decided to sit down and actually pay attention to those little hearts under my projects and I was very surprised with the tally on some, and not at all surprised on others. For example, my number one favorited project is the Applewood Cardigan I made last year.

Vine Yoke Cardigan - FINISHED

While I’ve worn this one quite a bit, it’s not one of my most-worn sweaters at all. Why? The only reason really is because it’s too short and that really bothers me. I am constantly finding myself pulling down on it as I wear it and that really drives me batty. It’s definitely a beautiful sweater, I just wish I had made it longer! In fact, out of all the sweaters I’ve made my favorite ones to wear are Sunniva and Effortless, both look and feel beautiful and yet one (Effortless) has a ton of favorites and the other (Sunniva) not so much.

Sunniva - FINISHED

Effortless Cardigan - FINISHED

Is that because of the number of projects tied to each of those sweaters? That would totally make sense except for the fact that the Children of Lir shawl I test knit has no other projects knit but my own and the designer’s and yet I have a lot of favorites on it…

Children of Lir Shawl - FINISHED

And my sister wears this shawl almost every single day and gets a LOT of compliments on it when wearing it too! On the other end of the spectrum, I have items that I wear every single day in the winter that have almost no favorites on them whatsoever – like this Jane hat!

Jane Hat - FINISHED

Which, surprisingly, I have gotten compliments on from other friends while wearing it. The other item I’ve been wearing pretty much every day this winter is my Folha Luz shawlette which I wear as a scarf like this:

Folha Luz - FINISHED

This one has a fair number of favorites and I have gotten a couple of compliments on it as well, but not nearly enough for how often I wear it! πŸ˜‰

And not to say that any of this plays a role in what I knit (or wear!) but I do find it interesting to note the difference between what people find pretty to look at compared to what I find that I like to wear every day. And it might all come down to the picture or the number of projects on that pattern, or even maybe how pretty I look during the photo shoot that day… I’m not sure. But in either case, I will keep on knitting and wearing my knitted items and musing about the Ravelry favorites system. Certainly it’s fun to find that others like your work… even if it’s not as much (or as little) as you do!

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27 responses to “Pretty VS. Wearable

  1. Jana 01.18.2011 at 2:23 am

    Interesting, isn’t it? Who knows why people like what they like — I puzzle over this sometimes with the photos on my tumblr. The things I think are great get no attention, but the afterthought pictures sometimes strike a chord. Just gotta keep doing what you do — you’re amazing at it. I think all of these are stunning, but I’m especially smitten by the bright red sweater. Something about the puffy sleeves, sweet lace collar and September-apple color just stir up fantasies of being in a children’s book.

  2. Alexandra 01.18.2011 at 2:58 am

    Very interesting post! I think all your projects are beautiful and I would definitely say something if I saw you on the street πŸ™‚ I’ve been thinking about something similar.. There are patterns that I would like to knit, because I find them interesting. Something with a new technique I’ve never tried, for example. I know that I won’t really wear some of those projects but I still want to knit them, for the knitting experience. I feel the same way about patterns that I think are pretty but not right for me (body shape or something that is too bulky and hot for the weather in Greece). Not wearable but I want to knit them anyway! I wear most of the things I’ve made, the ones I don’t wear really don’t fit – I have two hats that I knit before I knew anything about gauge πŸ™‚

    • Lina 01.18.2011 at 1:44 pm

      That’s an interesting point… knitting something just for the technique! I’m not sure if I would do the same. I think I would wait for something to come out with that same technique that I would love to wear! And definitely, gauge is SUCH an important lesson for any knitter!

  3. Gerry 01.18.2011 at 3:01 am

    Yes, but what better way to spend time – than knitting.

    Knitterly Hugs,

    BTW, I won the wool you used in your applewood cardi
    am I going to have to frog my snood so you can lengthen your cardi????? :^)

  4. fridica 01.18.2011 at 3:17 am

    You only started paying attention to your favourites recently? I obsess over them every day πŸ˜€ comparing which project got ahead, as if it’s a little sports competition πŸ˜€

    • Lina 01.18.2011 at 1:47 pm

      LOL! I love the sport competition comment. πŸ˜‰ Actually I’ve been looking at my favorites for a while but never actually made the connection with what I like to wear and what is most favorited. And that’s so interesting about your next comment on the project that you liked after everyone else did. I wonder how many people have had that happen? It seems like it could be quite a bit.

  5. fridica 01.18.2011 at 3:18 am

    p.s. Actually, one project which was a personal UGH got so many favourites that I started liking it πŸ™‚

  6. Linda 01.18.2011 at 4:28 am

    Its all a matter of taste isn’t it really? I do think that your photography is wonderful and makes all the items a favourite for me!!

  7. atangledyarn 01.18.2011 at 4:51 am

    all of your items look beautiful:) when i’m out and about i always notice if someone is wearing something knit, but…i have never been close enough in proximity to actually say, hey, i like your such and such. maybe that is part of it? but i love the red sweater, and your hat, and really, all the other items you mentioned:)

    • Lina 01.18.2011 at 1:49 pm

      I could see that… I guess I think I will make an effort to compliment people from now on… maybe karma will kick some back to me! πŸ˜‰

  8. Andi 01.18.2011 at 5:19 am

    I rarely get compliments on my knits in real life. All people ever seem to notice are the dresses I wear.

    On Ravelry, my most favorited sweater is one of the sweaters that I wear the least. It does photograph nicely, but the yarn bleeds so badly that I’m afraid to wear it. You can’t see that from the pictures, kind of like how I can’t see that your sweater is too short from your pictures. That’s all people have to go off on Ravelry. If I think something is amazing and it doesn’t have a lot of favorites, I usually assume that it is because of the photos, not because the FO isn’t awesome.

    • Lina 01.18.2011 at 1:52 pm

      That is definitely true that seeing it in person vs. in a picture can make a HUGE difference! The sweater doesn’t look too short in the picture because it’s not too short when I’m just wearing it. It’s when I start walking around that it rides up. Perhaps we should have a video option on Ravelry to see how knits look on people when they’re walking, LOL!

      And I find it really interesting that when you see something awesome without a lot of favorites you assume that it’s the picture… I wonder how much of that is actually true and how much of it is just that the person doesn’t contribute a lot to Ravelry. And by that I mean that they don’t post in a lot of forums so their work isn’t shared as much.

  9. julie 01.18.2011 at 9:04 am

    I think all your knits are lovely and they always look their best from your beautiful photography:)

    I have this problem with lace shawls. I think they are beautiful and i enjoy knitting them, but I don’t really wear them much IRL. So is it worth it to knit them and get the enjoyment of the process of seeing a lovely FO unfold? I think it is. But most sit in a basket in my closet catching a bit of dust:)

    Closely related to this discussion is the absolute lack of appreciation that the majority of the population has for anything handmade. They don’t understand it because they don’t knit or do woodwork or sew or….if it doesn’t come from the Gap or Pottery Barn, then it’s not really on their radar.

    So just keep knitting and enjoy it for YOU. Who can figure out what the rest of them are thinking anyway??

    • Lina 01.18.2011 at 1:57 pm

      That’s funny that you don’t wear your lace shawls as they are beautiful! I wear mine a lot, so they are definitely a usable item for me. Lack of appreciation is a very true point… we were just discussing this on a NYC group the other day as the NY Times tends to “diss” knitters quite a bit. It’s interesting that some people can be totally in love with handmade knits but others not. I guess it also comes down to the home life and knitters being regarded as old ladies clicking away on their knitting needles. It’s definitely still not considered hip and cool by a large number of people. Not to mention the sexism involved in it being a woman’s hobby and not something a man could do… which many many men have proven wrong and yet I still encounter men who appreciate my handknits and when I suggest that they should learn they automatically reject the idea, because it’s “for women.”

      And for sure I will keep knitting and enjoying it for me! It’s the only reason I do it in the first place. πŸ˜‰

  10. MsLindz 01.18.2011 at 10:42 am

    I find it interesting as well. I don’t often get compliments on my knits in person and just Saturday I had an odd experience. I got a complement when I put on my Daybreak shawl, but no one once said a thing about the Liesl sweater I’d been wearing all night!

    I’ve been having the pretty vs wearable debate myself. I like a lot of things that are pretty, but not something I wear. I have a big pile of FO’s at home of things I’ve made myself that don’t get worn and only a small pile of things that I do wear. I’m trying to be a little more discriminating about the things I knit so I have more wearable things. I’d much rather have things I love and wear, then a pile of things I don’t wear!

  11. Jane 01.18.2011 at 10:48 am

    Very interesting post! I have not knitted as much as you have, but similarly, I do find it strange which projects get more notice than others. I get lots of “Did you knit that?” when I wear a very simple garter stitch scarf made of yarn that I don’t like (acrylic!!) – my first project after taking up knitting again after a long hiatus.

    I just finished a red sweater that I’d worked 2 months on and no one has asked me about it….my hubby thinks it is because it doesn’t look “handknit” – so maybe that is a good sign?

    I dunno! I guess I’ll just knit for myself and not for compliments! πŸ˜‰

  12. loremor 01.18.2011 at 11:08 am

    I love your Jane hat! I don’t know why I’ve never loved it on Rav…but you were the inspiration for my own Jane in fiberphile worsted.

  13. StephCat 01.18.2011 at 11:43 am

    Not only is that shawl gorgeous but that picture is stunning, so I’m not surprised you have a lot of faves on it.

    I think, from what I can see in the pic, your applewood is very flattering.

    I love your Sunniva, no idea what’s up with that.

  14. Amanda 01.18.2011 at 11:58 am

    This must be something that’s floating around in all of our minds; I’ve been meaning to blog this topic myself. I haven’t started sweater knitting for the year because I’m trying to be more honest about what I’ll actually wear vs what I think is gorgeous but won’t be worn much, if at all.

    I’ve also found that my hand knits rarely get complimented in public, which can be disappointing. Earlier this fall, we had a day cool enough to wear my Shalom and I heard someone compliment a sweater. I went to turn around to say, “thank you,” only to realize that the compliment wasn’t aimed at me. It was instead aimed at a cheap, store bought sweater and after complimenting, the person added that she owns the exact same sweater…but in brown. I couldn’t decide if I was more embarrassed or irritated. (Good thing no one could hear my thoughts; they were…colorful.) I have to agree with the earlier comment that for non-crafters, if they can not recognize where it came from, they’ll rarely comment.

    As for your Sunniva, my personal theory is that the pattern isn’t a trendy shape for this moment in time. It might come off as unwearable for many people; vintage shapes seem to appeal to a smaller number of knitters. It *could* also have to do with the popularity of the designer for each piece. Both Ysolda and Hannah are more well known then Kristen, and that could definitely be at play. For what it’s worth, all three were already in my favorites. πŸ™‚

    • Lina 01.18.2011 at 2:13 pm

      OMG I would have been so livid… and I’m sure you wouldn’t have wanted to read my thoughts either.

      That’s interesting as far as trendy shapes… I found Sunniva to work *really* well with my body as well as other people with totally different body types and would for sure knit another if I ever felt like it (too bad it’s in fingering and takes forever!). There are lots of REALLY trendy pieces out there that look like crap on me… like Goodale. I would look horrible in one so would never make it, but I see a TON of people who have made it that do NOT look good in it… I guess it is all about a popularity contest and what is hot right now.

  15. Kelly In Texas 01.18.2011 at 1:25 pm

    Very interesting Lina! I know I’ve definitely figured out my own preferences for wearing my handknits. For instance, I wear most of my cardigans all the time, but I rarely wear my pullovers, maybe because they are not as versatile weather-wise (can’t just open a few buttons when you get too warm) or because I feel like they add more weight than my cardigans do.

    And it is odd which items get comments and which don’t. Heck, if I waited for people other than my hubby to comment, I’d probably never knit! My co-workers know I knit but almost never say anything. Oh well, that’s what friends on Rav are for!

    And I love that your friends will text you about the compliments they get! High (and well deserved) praise indeed!

  16. Johanne 01.18.2011 at 4:59 pm

    What an interesting discussion. It made me think. I don’t get a lot of compliments when I’m wearing things I knit for myself, but my sister and my mother both tell me they get tons of compliments on the things I make for them. Maybe it’s because so many of my friends and people I work with know that I knit, so they don’t think all that much of it when they see me wearing something hand knit. Maybe I actually take more time thinking about how something will look when I knit it for someone else, how the color will be for them, the style, etc. I never really thought about it before. I do think, though, that on Ravelry, the photo does have a lot to do with it. I know I’m usually struck by something if it’s a beautiful photo. I might look at two of the same projects by different knitters and really love one, and it’s usually because it’s a gorgeous photo of the piece. I also think there’s something in the comment about whether or not people can tell if something is hand knit. I bet a lot of people would be blown away completely if they knew that some of those gorgeous sweaters you wear were made by you rather than purchased in a store. They might see things in a whole other light.

  17. Mags 01.18.2011 at 6:00 pm

    I find Ravelry favourites to be a strange thing. Most of my hearts are on things I very rarely wear these days, for one reason or another. I wish I wore my sweaters more, but classrooms at Uni run so warm that wearing a wool jumper is a bit like wearing an oven.

    My friends don’t usually notice I’m wearing something I knit, unless they saw me working on it. And even then they’re not the compliment-y type, more “oh, you knit that didn’t you?”. My hats and mittens do occasionally get remarks from strangers though, that’s nice.

  18. shortly24 01.20.2011 at 5:38 am

    I’ve definitely noticed that with me spending less time on Ravelry forums I get far fewer favourites than I used to. Many projects now just get a couple of hearts. I guess I need to be more timely in getting projects up, this has all taken a back seat to life lately.

    In terms of what others have faved of mine, I find some are very similar to my favourites, but one had quite a number of hearts and it was a very badly fitting sweater. I ended up giving it to a lady at work who is at least 4 sizes larger than me! I’m stoked it fits her, but find it hard to believe others look at the photos and like what they see!

  19. ikkinlala 01.21.2011 at 12:20 am

    I tend to favourite project pages on Ravelry that I could see myself using, either because they’re a good example of a pattern I’m considering or because the notes or modifications are something I want to refer to. I’m less likely to favourite a project I can’t see myself trying unless it’s something unusual. It’s more like a bookmark system to me than a list of things I like. I do try to remember to comment on other projects, though.

    I knit mostly socks, so I wear them all the time but other people seldom see them. It seems like most of the people who do comment are crafters themselves.

  20. kala 01.22.2011 at 2:48 pm

    I always find it interesting to see what people favorite on Ravelry too. I think the funniest thing is when I get hearts on projects that I hated and ended up frogging!

  21. autumngeisha 01.23.2011 at 9:11 pm

    The Ravelry favorites system is definitely mystifying to me, too. I usually favorite things that I could picture myself knitting or wearing. But often, it’s the photo or styling that draws me in. I also tend to fave projects that have cool mods or unique yarn choices. As for wearability, I am trying to work on knitting things that I can wear on an everyday basis. That’s an ongoing struggle because I love the fancy lace shawls and pretty, detailed sweaters. Since my usual outfit involves jeans and a basic tee, the search continues……I love all those gorgeous sweaters that you chose above…hmmm…all wearable, too…heading to Rav now to exercise my fave power.

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